Without a close second, over the first month of the season the Celtics biggest flaw was it's three point shooting. We went over it, extensively. But to recap, coming into the month roughly 25% of the Celtics field goal attempts were 3 point shots, and they were hitting only 30% of them with no substantial difference between contested shots and shots that are wide open. The last parts important, because it emphasises that the Celtics weren't just missing shots - they were missing the right ones.
Luckily, things are starting to correct themselves. Per Jay King:
Over their last nine games, the Celtics are shooting 37 percent from behind the arc. Had been 30.6 percent over 12 games before that.
For the season, the Celtics are attempting 28.3 triples per game (third in league). So the uptick in shooting is critical.
The uptick's coming from a few different spots. Most obviously, Avery Bradley - whose now been shooting 47(!)% on 6.6(!) attempts a game since November 15th. The team's also seen significant upticks from Jae Crowder (40.9% since November 15th, 26.7 before) and Isaiah Thomas (36% before, 29.8%) - though I'll add that he's been consistently poor at pull up 3's, because it's a really difficult shot )that he loves taking).
As King points out, the Celtics don't necessarily need this level of success, but their offense demands that they at least shoot somewhere around league average to be an acceptable offense. Make no bones about it, the Celtics uptick in wins and shooting is by no means a coincedence.
Start Your Morning Off With... RONDOBACK
Fire Up The Trade Machine by Padraic O'Connor
Nearly a quarter through the NBA season and already I'm already blow away by everything going on outside of Boston. Some factors are more surprising than others, but I'm stunned nonetheless. The Miami Heat are second in the Eastern Conference at 12-7. The Celtics are 9th at 12-9. As kooky as this stat is at nearly a quarter of the way through the season, it isn't all that surprising.
What is surprising is that maybe... JUST MAYBE... the Eastern Conference is good?
After a pretty abysmal year of playing 30+ mens league quality hoops, the East has clawed it's way out of the basement and looks like it could produce some contenders to challenge the mighty Golden State Warriors. In order to do so, there are some trades that are going to have to be made. If Miami wants to maintain their lead and stay atop the standings, they're going to have to go big and flip the WIN IT ALL NOW switch.
With that in mind, I went a little click happy in the trade machine. There is no accounting for common sense as long as the salaries match. Interestingly enough, in order to create a super team strong enough to challenge whomever comes out of the West, Pat Riley and Eric Spoelstra are going to have to do the same.
Melo to Miami has been on the tip of the trade rumor tongue for some time now. The problem is that Miami replaced their version of The Big Three with the Medium Four, but somehow kept the payroll almost exactly the same. Bosh, Wade, Deng, and Dragic all make superstar money making trades difficult to pull off. Big contracts only get traded for other big contracts, unless you work with a team that is looking to rebuild.
Enter the New York Knicks who FINALLY have something to be happy about in Kristaps Porzingis aka Porzingod, aka Godzingas, aka KP tha GOD. He's an exciting young player that the Knicks can build around over the next few years. You know what goes well with exciting young players? Other exciting young players. The Heat have one of those in Justise Winslow-- a player with so much upside the Celtics are rumored to have offered four first round picks to Charlotte to move up and get him.
That's really the trade here-- the Knick of the past for the Knick of the future. The pieces involved the deal are just expensive wrapping paper. The Heat have a limited window to make a run before Wade turns into East Coast Kobe. Getting Melo into a Heat jersey will prolong that process, add another lethal scorer with name recognition to keep the stands full, and keep Miami in the casual contention conversation while they slowly rebuild. They will always be an NBA free agent destination, so when I say rebuild I don't mean a teardown... just a few new shingles on the house and maybe a fresh coat of paint on the garage.
The flirtation between Miami and New York is exactly the kind of situation the Celtics should be getting in on. Their team is as solid as it has been in the last five years and the building blocks for their own ascent up the Eastern Conference ladder are there in the form of young assets and a war chest of picks. David Lee's contract looks unmovable when he isn't seeing much of the floor, but in situations like this when a large contract MUST be moved in order to obtain a bigger prize (for Miami-- a title hope, and for New York-- the building blocks for the future), it comes in pretty handy. Plus he gets to go back to NYC, which is some nice symmetry on his NBA career. It worked out great for Tayshaun Prince in Detroit.
The Celtics get back a one-year rental of Luol Deng which adds a versatility to their rotation and stability at the wing, and Josh McRoberts, whose $5.5M salary ($5.7M in '16-'17, $6M in '17-'18) is either very affordable presence in the front court for Brad Stevens, or a movable asset for Danny Ainge in the near future.
VERDICT: As much as I hate to just do trades that help other teams win, this isn't the Celtics year to raise an 18th banner. Once that time comes, the pilot light will have gone out on this version of the Miami Heat, and the Knicks will be dealing with another superstar focused on their personal brand. The Celtics get more solid vets to help guide their young core, and don't have to commit long term money to a superstar who'd rather get play at the beach. Pull the trigger, Danny.